Archive

Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín

Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littín

author: Gabriel García Márquez

name: Steev

average rating: 3.81

book published: 1986

rating: 4

read at: 2009/10/25

date added: 2014/07/28

shelves: politics, filmmaking, fun, own-it

review:
This is a short but fascinating true story of a film director from Chile, exiled after the Pinochet coup, who sneaks back into the country after 12 years in order to do a documentary about the state of the nation. Despite its factual nature, Garcia Marquez narrates the book in a dramatic first person style and it is a distillation of an 18-hour interview he did with the filmmaker.

Oddly, nowhere in the book is there mention of the name of the film that Littin produced from the 105 thousand feet of footage he and his 5 crews shot in Chile over the course of a month or so. I looked it up on IMDB though and it's called "Acta General de Chile" - it doesn't look like there's an english version, unfortunately. But, it can be seen on Google Video here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?doc...#

At any rate, the book is a great snapshot at what Pinochet's regime did to Chile after just 12 years, and an empathetic look at the effect of exile on a creative and patriotic artist.

Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning

author: Viktor E. Frankl

name: Steev

average rating: 4.33

book published: 1946

rating: 5

read at: 2014/09/08

date added: 2014/09/10

shelves: own-it, spirit-self

review:
This book is everything everyone praises it for and more. Highly recommended. I found it highly inspiring, moving, heartbreaking, and wise. Enough said.

Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories

Where I'm Calling From: New and Selected Stories

author: Raymond Carver

name: Steev

average rating: 4.42

book published: 1969

rating: 4

read at: 2014/09/10

date added: 2014/09/10

shelves: spirit-self, own-it, short-fiction

review:
Carver was definitely a master, and well worth reading. However - and here's where my review becomes more about personal and momentary taste - I'm not sure if he will stand the test of time, or even is doing that now. To me his characters are hard to identify with, although I can sympathize with them. It's just that often, they seem stuck in a time that's thankfully past - the sort of 40s through 60s time of couples who don't really talk, men (and in some cases women) who drink too much, get in fights, play their gender roles to the hilt, and leave their families at the drop of a hat, etc etc. Generally lots of not very conscious, unhappy, low-grade jerks, sadly bumbling through their sordid lives. Perhaps there's still a lot of people like these out there, but to me this feels dated. Carver's a a step up from Hemingway in that at least he recognizes the sadness of these people and isn't just celebrating macho stoic males. Still, I'm preferring, these days at least, fiction that resonates more and is addressing what it's like to be alive now. Perhaps I'll be accused of subscribing to the dreaded "relatability" fad, but I find more spiritual sustenance in protagonists that are more modern - folks that are vulnerable, smart, dorky, and nice, but still get into trouble and have a hard time. Following the mishaps of dudes whose flaws have mostly been addressed by my generation and demographic is interesting, but not necessarily the most useful to me in my quest to become a wiser and better person.
That said, Carver was an expert at his craft, and in the context of his background and time, is worth reading - just like Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, etc. It's just not what's floating my boat these days.

The Baffler: No. 25

The Baffler:  No. 25

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.62

book published: 2014

rating: 5

read at: 2014/10/01

date added: 2014/10/01

shelves: fun, politics, own-it

review:

American Psycho

American Psycho

author: Bret Easton Ellis

name: Steev

average rating: 3.82

book published: 1991

rating: 4

read at: 2014/11/16

date added: 2014/11/18

shelves: novels, own-it, fun

review:
This is an odd novel. It's a light-hearted, absurdist satire about rich people and New York and trendiness and fashion. But it's also a violent, misogynist horror story full of ultra-graphic, impossibly extreme gore and brutality. Oh and super graphic, porn-style sex scenes.

It's one of those books where I wondered often why I was still reading, and yet couldn't put it down.

Some things I really enjoyed about it:
1. One running gag is that the narrator is always mistaking people for other people, and in turn he's always being mistaken for others. Co-workers or acquaintances come up and greet him by other names, etc. It happens so often as to be this hilarious and biting commentary on modern alienation.

2. The anachronism of the time the book is set in. It's so clearly late-80s, it almost hurts, to read about the cordless phones, video rentals, answering machines and INXS playing at the clubs.

3. The porn-style sex scenes. Really just because they, along with the killing scenes, are such a stark contrast with the rest of the book, which is mostly vapid recountings of evenings spent dining at trendy eateries and the designer brands everyone is wearing.

Anyway. I hate to admit I've never read any other Bret Easton Ellis, but this makes me want to.

Alternadad

Alternadad

author: Neal Pollack

name: Steev

average rating: 3.40

book published: 2000

rating: 5

read at: 2014/11/15

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: children, fun, gentrification, own-it, homesteading, memoir

review:
Just what I needed.
It was surprising how much of the book is about not just "alternative" parenting but about gentrification. The story is the story of a dude growing up and starting to value a way of life (domestic, family-based, child-centered) different than he used to, and trying to reconcile that with his values about class and urbanity and growth and re-development, etc.

The Baffler No. 26

The Baffler No. 26

author: John Summers

name: Steev

average rating: 4.22

book published: 2014

rating: 5

read at: 2014/12/15

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: own-it, politics

review:
Excellent, as usual. the "Dads of Tech" and piece by Astra Taylor is a highlight, as well as the one about disability.

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic

author: Ariel Dorfman

name: Steev

average rating: 3.88

book published: 1971

rating: 5

read at: 2000/01/01

date added: 2014/12/31

shelves: politics

review:

The Housing Monster

The Housing Monster

author: prole.info

name: Steev

average rating: 3.77

book published: 2011

rating: 5

read at: 2015/02/10

date added: 2015/02/24

shelves: politics, gentrification, own-it

review:
Excellent. Essentially a marxist analysis of the housing and construction industries, but a modern one. Includes an erudite chapter on Soviet Russia and why it wasn't really communism but was in fact just another form of state capitalism.

In addition to the smart writing, the graphics are brilliant. Some of them I feel like blowing up into poster size and wheatpasting around town.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary

author: Sarah Manguso

name: Steev

average rating: 3.96

book published: 2015

rating: 5

read at: 2015/05/22

date added: 2015/05/22

shelves: memoir, spirit-self, own-it

review: